Homeowners insurance and theft coverage
Fact-checked with HomeInsurance.com
Does homeowners insurance cover theft? In most cases, yes. When you buy your home insurance policy, you get protection against the perils named in your policy. That can include fire, vandalism, falling tree limbs, civil unrest and more. Specifically, theft is a standard covered peril.
But there are some exclusions, particularly for high-value items. We’ve built this guide to help you understand exactly when and how your home policy offers theft insurance.
When homeowners insurance covers theft
Homeowners insurance covers theft when you are living in your home at the time of the theft and take the necessary precautions — like locking your doors — to protect your stuff. After a burglary, you might not only need to replace your stuff. Unless the thief was a skilled lockpick, they likely caused damage while in your home. Fortunately, your home insurance can protect you here, too. Different coverage in your policy offers different support:
- Coverage A: This part of your policy protects the structure of your home. If a window or a door was broken during the burglary, this helps cover the cost of repairs. Some policies have limits on broken glass repairs, though, so read your policy to understand how much help you can expect.
- Coverage B: This part of your home insurance policy covers other structures on your property, like a detached garage. This would help you if the thief did damage to other structures besides your house.
- Coverage C: This is the main part of your policy you’ll call on after a theft because it covers your personal belongings. It’s important to read your policy and understand your Coverage C limits. First, make sure you have enough overall coverage to truly replace everything you’d want to should a thief make a clean sweep of your house. Secondly, review your coverage limits for valuables like jewelry and art. If you’re worried your high-value items don’t have enough protection, pay special attention to the “Additional protection” section of this article.
Your policy also likely extends coverage to your stuff when it’s not at your house. The off-premises personal property portion of your Coverage C outlines how much protection you have if your stuff gets stolen out of your car or from your luggage while traveling. Usually, your off-premises coverage totals a certain percentage of your Coverage C.
When homeowners insurance doesn’t cover theft
Generally, homeowners insurance is pretty reliable when it comes to theft. In most cases, the answer will be yes if you ask, “Does home insurance cover theft?” But there are certain instances in which your insurer could deny coverage, including:
- Negligence on your part: If you didn’t lock your door or left your pricey golf clubs sitting on the front lawn, your insurer likely would say the theft was preventable and deny your claim.
- Failure to report the theft: When your home gets burglarized, your first call should be to the police. Most insurers will need a police report, and if you wait too long after the theft occurs to get it and submit your claim, they might cover the claim.
- Theft if you’re not in residence: Your homeowners insurance policy only protects your stuff while you’re living in the insured house. If you spend more than a couple of months somewhere else, your insurer can argue you need vacant and unoccupied home coverage to protect you. This is true even if your home is under construction.
Make sure you have enough protection for everything that’s at-risk to get stolen. While the thief might make away with your throw pillows or your kid’s toys, they’re probably trying to make a profit. That means they’re looking for high-ticket items, the exact type of items that most likely have lower, sub-limits on them.
Your insurer places these sub-limits on items like:
- Sports equipment
If the item’s worth a lot, there’s a high likelihood your insurer has set a cap on how much they’ll pay you if it gets stolen. Fortunately, you can make sure you have the protection it needs by either:
- Increasing the limit: Ask your insurer about increasing the sub-limit on specific personal property categories that need it. They’ll let you know how much they can increase that limit and how much it will increase your premiums.
- Buying a rider: Also called an endorsement, this is an add-on to your homeowners insurance policy. It specifically lists the high-value item you want to protect and extends coverage for it. Like increasing your sub-limits, buying a rider increases the cost of your home insurance policy, but it can be worth it to get the theft insurance you need.
What do if you have been a victim of theft
Coming home to find someone has broken into your house and taken things you value is upsetting. It’s a scary, unsettling feeling, so take a few deep breaths. Then, call the police.
As you wait for law enforcement to show up to take a statement from you and gather evidence, take pictures. Snap images of any signs of breaking-and-entering and any evidence that the thief was in a specific room, like overturned drawers.
After the police leave, call your insurance company to start your homeowners insurance claim. Be sure to ask what information they’ll need to process your claim.
Next, safeguard your home. Fix damaged locks and windows, but make sure you don’t touch anything your insurance company wants their adjuster to see.
How to prevent theft
Whether you’ve been the victim of theft or simply reading this article is making you feel nervous, you probably want to do what you can to keep burglars out. Good news. There are some simple steps you can take to help prevent theft:
- Verify the locks on your doors and windows are secure.
- Make sure the exterior of your home is well-lit (consider motion-sensing lights) and doesn’t provide any easy places to hide.
- When you’re out of town, set an inside light on a timer and ask a friend to retrieve your mail.
- Look into home security options. They’ve evolved quite a bit in recent years, and setting up a home security system is now easier than ever before.
- If you have a spare key hidden outside, don’t keep it in an obvious place like under your doormat or in a planter near the door. Instead, consider putting it in a lockbox and, for extra security, hide the lockbox, too.
- Keep high-value items like bikes and grills hidden from view.
Also, while this doesn’t technically help prevent theft, we recommend making a home inventory. With this document in place, proving what got stolen and how much it was worth becomes much easier, which can help streamline your claim process significantly after a burglary.
How to file a theft claim
Claims processes vary from insurer to insurer, but there are a few things you’ll need to do. Start by:
- Calling your insurer the day the burglary occurs. Many insurers will deny coverage if you wait too long to inform them of the theft.
- Providing your insurer with your police report number.
- Asking your insurer what evidence and information they’ll need from you. Immediately after you get off the phone, gather those pieces so you don’t forget anything.
- Inquiring if they’ll send an insurance adjuster to your home. If they are, ask what you need to do to prepare.
- Asking about the steps of the claim process so you know what to expect.
Does homeowners insurance cover car theft?
No. You’ll need a separate auto insurance policy with comprehensive coverage for that.
Does homeowners insurance cover storage theft?
In most cases, yes. If by storage you mean things stored in a detached garage, you’ll get the same coverage you would if the items were stored in your home. If you’re storing them at an off-site location like a self-storage facility, your off-premises coverage limits will apply.
What if I failed to lock my front door? Am I still covered?
Probably not. If the theft occurred because you were negligent in some way, your insurer would most likely deny your claim.
Will homeowners insurance cover theft if my son or daughter’s stuff is stolen from their college dorm?
In most cases, yes, but review your policy. Also, the second they move from a dorm to an apartment, they’ll need a separate renters insurance policy to protect their stuff.
Does homeowners insurance cover theft? Yes. Does home insurance cover theft with absolutely no limits? No. To make sure you have enough home insurance coverage:
- Review the Coverage C portion of your policy to make sure you have enough overall protection and enough coverage for high-value item categories. If not, consider increasing your limits or buying a rider.
- Take the time to understand the claims process if you do become a victim of theft.
- Make sure you take the proper steps to secure your home, like locking your doors and safely storing items.
Do these things and make sure you pay your premiums on time and, you should have no trouble getting support from your home insurance after a burglary.